PHOENIX -- Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said ballistic evidence links the murder of a veteran deputy to a double homicide in Yavapai County.
In a press conference with Yavapai County Sheriff Scott Mascher Tuesday morning, Arpaio said weapons experts confirm that the killing of Deputy William Coleman in Anthem on Sunday and the murder of a New Hampshire couple near Sedona last week were likely committed by the same man using the same weapon.
Arpaio said the cartridges taken from both crime scenes are a match.
“We have two murders within days of each other -- within relatively close proximity to one another and both involving a high-powered rifle,” Arpaio said. “We believed from the outset, these killings were somehow likely connected.”
The suspect in both crimes is Drew Ryan Maras, 30. He was killed during a shootout with sheriff's deputies Sunday morning.
Deputies had responded to a burglary call at a medical plaza in Anthem and spotted Maras sleeping in a van.
Coleman tapped on the van and Maras sat up, opened the sliding door and fired at the deputy. Other deputies returned fire, killing the suspect.
Coleman was taken to a local hospital where he died shortly after arrival.
Investigation of the scene indicates that Maras fired 29 rounds, two of which hit and killed Coleman, according to the sheriff's office. Deputies returned 41 rounds.
Officials said Maras killed James Johnson and Carol Raynsford at a remote highway turnout near Sedona. The victims were found dead from gunshot wounds.
An AR-15 style rifle was recovered from the scene in Anthem.
Detectives are trying to establish a timeline for the suspect's activity in the area and any contacts he might have had had. Call YCSO if you saw Maras' vehicle in the Sedona area around the time of the homicides on Jan. 5 and 6. The vehicle is a 1998 Toyota Sienna minivan, color similar to champagne, with Illinois license plates.
Detectives spoke to Maras' father in Chicago. He said Maras was a Marine Corps reserve. He showed no signs of PTSD but may have been depressed. He said Maras had barely contacted his family during the 18 months he lived in the Phoenix area.
Authorities said Maras had lost his job and was living in his van.
According to Maras' Facebook page, he was a graduate of Arizona State University and a sci-fi/New Age writer who wrote online books prophesying mass destruction, as well as criticizing mass media and the government.